We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Well in that case…

When I read this zinger:

“It is absolutely clear that climate change is a threat to our collective security and the security of our nations,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who presided over the meeting.

I thought it was perhaps the most succinct summation of why (1) the ‘Conservative’ Party should be prosecuted under the Trade Descriptions Act (2) I will never vote for them again.

It is bizarre to think we can thank Russia (an enemy state run by gangsters) and India for providing the voice of sanity.

Samizdata quote of the day

I honestly believe that if the media and ‘experts’ said that blue masks don’t work, but yellow masks do, then a significant % of the population would switch colours tomorrow… And proceed to call anyone who questions it a ‘science denier’ or ‘conspiracy theorist’.

Zuby Udezue

We don’t need state planning to recover from the bug – we need the opposite

“Though you can’t move for pundits and politicians demanding more public spending, the big lesson of the postwar recoveries is that with robust consumer and investor confidence there is negligible need for government stimulus. History, not abstract theory, shows that the best way to boost growth after a ‘wartime’ period such as the pandemic is for the state to take a step back. This is particularly true with unemployment, which is undoubtedly a top priority, given the millions who have been furloughed or laid off in the last year. There will be countless calls for schemes and subsidies to support various groups. But we should take our cue here from post-war America, where household spending and private investment were the key ingredients for getting people back into work. Ministers should also be hard-headed about withdrawing support from companies which are no longer viable, especially once restrictions are removed. Overall, the lesson of the postwar recoveries is a simple one: with robust consumer and investor confidence, there is negligible need for government stimulus. The best way to repair the damage is not through schemes, subsidies and special treatment, but by getting out of the way and giving markets the flexibility they need.”

Jethro Elsden

We are going to get a lot of folk claiming that recovering from COVID-19 justifies a bigger state. We see this sort of commentary from the likes of former UK policy advisor Nick Timothy, who constantly talks about how Tory MPs must shed their suspicion of “industrial strategy” (translation: getting politicians and bureaucrats to support sectors they favour and predict what will be hot and what will not). Given the UK’s sorry history in this regard, it is hard to have to summon breath to point to the foolishness of this.

Samizdata quote of the day

“The glacial pace at which we’re being handed back our liberties is a stark contrast to the terrifying speed at which they were taken away. The deprivations of the last year have been so many and various that it’s difficult to remember what happened when, but having to cancel Christmas plans with just five days’ notice isn’t something many families will soon forget.”

Alys Denby

Samizdata quote of the day

Governments don’t oppose gig economy jobs because of a concern for working conditions, they do it because “real employees” are the most heavily taxed people in the economy, and the more of them there are the more the government can milk them for their outrageous vote buying schemes. Employees are much easier to manage and control both by employers and bureaucracies than freelancers. Consequently, bureaucracies prefer them.

Fraser Orr

How dare they not want to be rescued

Two days ago the BBC reported that the Supreme Court had ruled that Uber drivers are workers rather than being self-employed.

With what glad hosannas did the drivers greet the news of their liberation!

Er, no. As Sam Dumitriu writes in CapX,

Putting questions of legality to one side, it’s clear Uber’s business model works for drivers. If you don’t believe me, just ask them. Countless surveys have found that the majority of Uber drivers are happy with the status quo and would not sacrifice flexibility for greater security.

A survey carried out by Oxford University academics Carl Benedikt Frey and Thor Berger, in partnership with Uber, found that drivers reported higher levels of life satisfaction compared to other London workers, despite on average earning less. And, counter to the conventional wisdom, drivers typically worked full-time in other jobs before choosing to shift to Uber. Furthermore, more than four-fifths of drivers agreed with the statement: ‘Being able to choose my own hours is more important than having holiday pay and a guaranteed minimum wage’. They found that drivers would accept a move to fixed hours – but only if it came with a 25% pay rise.

Perhaps they had looked across the Atlantic and seen the results of California’s attempt to save gig economy workers from working in the gig economy:

In Uber’s home state of California, 70% of drivers backed Proposition 22, a ballot measure that created a carve-out for ridesharing services from the state’s tough laws on freelance work. The measure passed with 59% of the vote in November.

AB 5, the freelancer law which Prop 22 was responding to highlights how interventions designed to solve a problem in one market can have unintended consequences in others.

When it passed, Vox published an article: “Gig workers’ win in California is a victory for workers everywhere”. A month later they published another article: “Freelance journalists are mad about a new California law. Here’s what’s missing from the debate. The alternative to AB5 would be worse”. Two months later, Vox Media itself cut hundreds of freelance writing jobs in California.

A reputational version of the backward bending demand curve

When I saw this…

My first impulse when seeing the professional critic score compared to the ‘audience’ score was “hmm, this might be worth seeing.” 😀

A free speech alternative to Amazon E-Books

It is hard to overstate the importance of trying to use alternatives to oligopolistic companies seeking control what you can see or purchase. Sadly, Amazon is very hard to avoid these days but at least people can seek out competitors in specific areas, such as e-books.

The chaps at Creative Destruction Media suggest Smashwords. Highlighting the existence of alternatives where they exist is important.

Samizdata quote of the day

We are entering a world of tribal capitalism. See how Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire picked up Gina Carano. There are [The Powers That Be] and there are the outlaws.

I’m an outlaw. I’m a Kulak. Molon Labe.

Shlomo Maistre

Banned from Twitter

I just got banned from Twitter, which I do find hilarious to be honest, given the things they tolerate. Have no intention of pressing that ‘remove’ button. Wotevah…

On Gab.com from now on, was moving away from Twitter anyway as more and more of the interesting people have been banned.

I foresee a steady division process in which Twitter only tolerates what Kristian Niemietz describes as “high status opinions”, with platforms like Gab, Minds and Parler etc. becoming the home for contrary views. In short, social media will be more of an echo chamber, much like it was during the ‘golden age of blogging’ 2001-2009, when you knew exactly what to expect from a given site (such as this one for example). I always saw the whole point of platforms like Twitter as being where things get mixed up and people spar across the divide. But that will increasingly not be the case, so not sure what Twitter et al are really for.

Samizdata quote of the day

And so it was written. Nothing is now unthinkable. The difference between China’s bureaucratic totalitarianism and our own is now a matter of degree, not kind. The future is a bleak vista. Scientists claim that lockdown cycles will continue for years, and regular reviews of personal freedom look set to become as quotidian as changes in interest rates. Even if Covid-19 does disappear, it will be a brave politician who, in a future NHS winter crisis caused by traditional common-or-garden influenza, refuses to impose restrictions that scientists promise will save thousands of lives. Civil liberties safeguarded during two world wars are now, as they are in China, gifts of the state.

Jacob Williams

Samizdata quote of the day

“Delivering the vaccine to the highest risk groups will dramatically reduce the impact on our health. We have already seen in Israel the number of infections falling, especially among the vaccinated, as well as significantly fewer serious illnesses and deaths. Once the UK has reached the stage where those most at risk have received both doses of the vaccine the argument for keeping all of us locked up disappears. We have struggled through a year more difficult than most of us could have ever imagined, and we owe an enormous debt to those who have struggled to keep others safe. Young people have lost jobs and livelihoods – not to protect themselves but to protect their loved ones, their colleagues, and complete strangers. Many will be left with fewer job prospects, fewer friends, more debt, and developing mental health concerns as a result of their sacrifice, and the least we can do to repay them is to not lock them up for a moment longer than necessary. The government needs to return our liberty to all of us, not just those who have been vaccinated.”

Emma Revell